HISTORICALLY, Cork players have never been very popular with the football All-Star selectors.
They only received four awards in 2010 when All-Ireland champions, and they only got two in 2007 and 1993 despite being the All-Ireland runners-up.
Rightly or wrongly the Dublin based media tend to fawn at the sight of certain jerseys and ignore others.
Because of this a great many of Cork’s greatest servants were never awarded All-Star gongs throughout their long careers.
Here we look at some of the best of them:
1. Alan Quirke (Valley Rovers):
Quirke has six Munster Championship medals, three Division 1 medals and 1 Division 2 medal, as well as the All-Ireland, won in 2010, yet the All-Star selectors overlooked him. Despite this, Cork football fans were truly appreciative of a goalkeeper that minded the Cork net from 2001 to 2013.
2. Tony Nation (Nemo Rangers):
Was Cork captain when they came so close to winning the All-Ireland in 1988, and while not in the starting line-up for the 1989 victory over Mayo, the tight marking corner-back had fought his way back into the side for the double-winning triumph over Meath in 1990.
3. Humphrey Kelleher (Millstreet):
A rock on the great Cork team of the early 1970s that won Munster titles in 1971, 1973 and 1974, as well as the famous All-Ireland win over Galway in ’73. When he passed away too soon in 2005 Billy Morgan described him as “a giant on the ’73 team” and “a great full back, but very underrated”.
4. Denis Walsh (St Catherine's/Kildorrery):
One of Cork’s great dual players, he won virtually everything in a wonderful career. An All-Ireland winner in 1989, he was cruelly cut from the starting line up just before the 1990 victory over in Meath in 1990, which prevented him from matching Teddy McCarthy’s immortal feat of winning both All-Ireland’s that year.
5. Noel O’Leary (Cill na Martra):
Broke onto the team in 2003 when Cork were in the doldrums, every Kerryman’s favourite Corkman played a major role in Cork becoming a serious outfit again, and his battles with Kerry’s Paul Galvin are legendary. Won a deserved All-Ireland medal in 2010 before stepping off the inter-county carousel in 2013.
6. John Coleman (Millstreet):
The second of four Millstreet men who backboned the great ’73 side, Coleman played alongside Humphrey Kelleher, Con Hartnett and Denis Long, in a day that is unlikely to be ever repeated for the club. Coleman played a huge part that day, personally curbing the threat of Galway’s main dangerman Liam Sammon, and he was a fixture on the Cork team from 1971 to 1979 and won three Munster championships and an All-Ireland.
7. Barry Coffey (Bishopstown):
Equally at home at wing-back or wing forward, Coffey was brilliantly summed up in one paragraph of Adrian Russell’s excellent ‘The Double’, when describing the 1990 All-Ireland Final. “Liam Hayes was storming through, trying to exert his will…. Right on cue, Barry Coffey arrived to offer his customary creasing of the opposition’s main threat. Though an excellent player in his own right, Coffey’s apparent pleasure in cleaning out opponents was a motif that ran through the Morgan years”.
8. Alan O’Connor (St. Colum’s):
A solid workhorse in the centre of the pitch from 2008 to 2017, he was one of Conor Counihan’s many big men down the middle when Cork won that long-awaited All-Ireland in 2010, even if he never got plaudits that the likes of Graham Canty, Aidan Walsh, Nicholas Murphy and Pearse O’Neill receieved.
9. Danny Culloty (Newmarket):
The ‘Yank’ would have hardly believed you if he had been told that he would win two All-Ireland’s and seven Munster titles when he arrived in north west Cork in the early 1980s. He formed a brilliant midfield partnership with another ‘blow-in’ Shea Fahy, as Cork battled Meath for the title of the best team of that era.
10, John O’Driscoll (Ballingeary):
Destined to be remembered as the teenage scoring hero for Ireland against Australia in 1986, he had great moments for Cork too, in an injury-plagued career. His goal in the 1989 Munster final proved crucial, and he scored a brilliant goal in the All-Ireland Final of 1993 against Derry, albeit in defeat, in arguably his finest season in Cork colours.
11. Donncha O’Connor (Ballydesmond):
12-152 scored in twelve championship seasons says it all. Not bad going for a fella who famously drove to his first Cork training session, saw Ciaran O’Sullivan and Joe Kavanagh walking into the dressing room, and got such stage fright that he just drove straight home.
A role model for all those born not blessed with ridiculous notions of themselves. Was Cork’s top scorer from play in the 2010 decider against Down, with three vital points kicked, and he ended with five in total on the day. His crucial penalty in the semi-final in the comeback against Dublin was equally as important.
12. Paul Kerrigan (Nemo Rangers):
Debuted for Cork in 2008, and still going, but he never got to match dad Jimmy’s 1983 All-Star, despite scoring 9-76 in 53 appearances for Cork. His blistering pace has been a major asset for Cork for 12 years now, as he provides one of the last remaining links to that great 2010 winning team.
13. Jimmy Barrett (Nemo Rangers):
An All-Ireland winner for Cork at minor, U21 and senior level, he was perhaps the less heralded of Cork’s great twin attack in 1973, but he was equally as deadly as the media darling Jimmy Barry-Murphy. Indeed, it was Barrett’s last-minute goal in that final against Galway that sparked a Rebel pitch invasion.
14. Mick McCarthy (O’Donovan Rossa):
Crucially scored two points from play in helping Cork beat Mayo in the 1989 All-Ireland Final, he repeated that feat twelve months later when 14 man Cork secured the double with an extremely hard-fought 0-11 to 0-9 win over nemesis Meath. His greatest ever day was the day he scored 1-7 to help O’Donovan Rossa to All-Ireland club glory over Éire Óg in 1992. Was taken far too soon in 1998.
15. John Cleary (Castlehaven):
A career that stretched from Tadhg Murphy’s last-minute heroics against Kerry in 1983, in a game where Cleary kicked 1-6 himself, all the way to the All-Ireland Final defeat to Derry 10 years later. His two perfectly struck penalties proved pivotal to Cork’s 2-10 to 1-9 win over Dublin in the 1989 All-Ireland semi-final, which was crucial in Cork bringing Sam Maguire home that year.